Trey Kellum scored 21 points and had nine rebounds to lead four players in double figures, but Southeast Missouri (0-4) lost its fourth-straight road game when it fell to Texas Rio Grande Valley (2-3), 83-74, Tuesday night.
UTRGV, which trailed, 42-36, at the intermission, shot 62.1 percent from the field in the second half and outscored Southeast, 34-18, inside the paint to pull away.
“We got better tonight and it was the first time we had some continuity on the offensive end,” said Southeast head coach Rick Ray. “We can take away some positives from this game and, obviously, we’re frustrated we didn’t win the game.”
Southeast put together its best half of basketball this season in the game’s opening period.
Kellum, who made his first career start as a Redhawk, scored 10 points in the first 4:15 of the game to help get the Redhawks a 13-7 lead. He also had two offensive rebounds in that stretch.
Antonius Cleveland’s jumper later gave Southeast its first double-digit lead of the season at 25-14 at the 10:35 mark. The Redhawks then headed into the locker room up by six.
Down by five (56-51) with 14:25 left to play in the second half, UTRGV used a 12-0 run to get ahead of Southeast.
Shaquille Hines kickstarted the surge with a layup and split a pair of free throws before Antonio Green followed with five-straight points. Dakota Slaughter knocked down a three and was fouled, converting a 4-point play that pushed UTRGV’s lead to 63-56 with 10:42 left.
Kellum answered with five unanswered points, quickly dicing the Vaqueros lead to 63-61 with just under 10 minutes to go.
UTRGV regrouped to run its lead to 12 points (73-61) before the Redhawks countered again, this time with a 9-0 run to get to within three. Joel Angus III and Cleveland each made two free throws. Marcus Wallace then scored a layup and buried a three to narrow the Vaqueros lead to 73-70 with 4:19 remaining.
Isiah Jones’ layup made it a one-possession game once more (75-72), but Southeast missed 5-of-6 field goals, three free throws and three layups in the final 3:15.
Southeast outrebounded UTRGV, 39-34, and had 17 offensive boards. The Redhawks also made a season-high seven 3-pointers, forced 13 turnovers and collected a season-best 10 steals.
“We had 17 offensive rebounds, but were outscored in the paint,” commented Ray. “We are getting second opportunities and just not finishing. That’s something we have struggled with so far and need to fix.”
Kellum shot 9-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 at the free throw line to lead all Southeast scorers. He also had an assist and one steal in 23 minutes.
“Trey is so strong and explosive in the paint,” added Ray. “He also hit some jump shots in the 15-foot range and attacked the rim.”
Jones followed with 17 points, including nine from 3-point range in 34 minutes. Cleveland and Wallace contributed 12 and 10 points off the bench, respectively. Wallace dished out a career-high nine assists and Angus pulle down nine rebounds, as well.
Hines led four UTRGV starters in double-digits with 23 points. Dan Kimasa turned in a double-double 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Slaughter had 16 points and Green contributed 10. All five of the Vaqueros starters played at least 36 minutes.
UTRGV made 18-of-29 field goals and buried five of its seven threes en route to outscoring Southeast, 47-32, in the second half.
The Redhawks, who travelled over 3,500 miles during their lengthy four-game road trip to start the season, return to Cape Girardeau to host Loyola Marymount in their home-opener Saturday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m., CT, at the Show Me Center.